Nalini Mohabir

Nalini Mohabir is an Assistant Professor of geography at Concordia University, Montreal. 

Title: “Mapping the unmappable through a return to the Kala Pani.”


Abstract: This is a brief reflection on the significance of the intertextual conversation between Brand and Naipaul in A Map to the Door of No Return. Brand writes: “When Naipaul travels to India […] he is making the return trip across the Kala Pani … the Sargasso … the middle passage … the door” (60). What does it mean to think of the meeting of traumas together in a liminal space? How might Brand’s insights into the necessity of grappling with the personal and psychic pains of history — the meeting points of the Door of No Return and the Kala Pani — offer opportunities to revisit historical methods?  Learning from Brand’s careful and caring attention to emotional resonances and residues, I view Brand’s reading of Naipaul as a method to re-engage with the archives of indenture ships, and argue that the “black water of the journey” cannot be understood without reference to its psychic dimensions.